Top 7 Geospatial Visualizations and Analysis Features of BI Tools

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(This is a multipart series about how to evaluate and select the right BI tool for you and your team. To see the entire outline of the series and a framework for how to evaluate a BI tool, see How to Select the Best BI Tool for You.)

Like shopping for a car or a new electronic device, there are likely a lot of features that the average Jane won’t need. We aim to cover the breadth of features that the top tools and analysts in the market are talking about.

It’s important to focus on what’s right for you and your use case. We recommend buyers be careful to not let features creep onto their “Want to have” or “Mission critical” lists when doing your research. It can be really easy to learn about a cool feature and then think about all the cool and creative ways you could use it. Curiosity and creativity is to be human.

Remember: You started shopping to fill a specific need. Keep that front and center as you research while getting educated on other cool features and how you may use them after your initial set of requirements are delivered.


Geospatial analytics is one of those things that demos super well and is very captivating. Like some other features, this feature set is often best for point in time analysis and is less often needed on an ongoing basis. This is a great example of a feature that creeps into the “Mission Critical” list once people see it in action. On top of this, geospatial analytics is technically pretty complicated and involves a lot of moving parts.

If you are in the market for this, here are the top geospatial visualizations and analysis features of BI tools to consider as part of your evaluation.

1. Geocoding

The solution supports both forward and reverse geocoding to plot geographic locations on the map. Forward geocoding involves pointing to a geographic location by starting with its address (street, city, state, province, country) and ending up with latitude and longitude coordinates. Reverse geocoding involves pointing to a geographic location by starting with its latitude and longitude coordinates and ending up with a human-readable address.

2. Geographic Search

The solution offers a geographic map search functionality to find locations on-the-fly in a map view, without knowing the geographic coordinates.

3. Geospatial Functions and Calculations

The solution enables geographic calculations and functions to transform geospatial data and perform geospatial analysis.

4. Mapping and Maps API Integration

The solution supports integration with mapping and maps API providers like Mapbox, Google Maps, Bing Maps, etc.

5. Maps and Geospatial Visualizations

The solution supports visualization of spatial data into various types of interactive map visualizations like proportional symbol maps, choropleth maps, dot distribution maps, heatmaps (density maps), flow maps (path maps), spider maps (origin-destination maps), dual-axis (layered) maps, etc.

6. Spatial Files Support

The solution connects to spatial files like Shapefiles, MapInfo tables, KML (Keyhole Markup Language) files, TopoJSON files, GeoJSON files, Esri File Geodatabases, etc.

7. WMS Servers Integration

The solution connects to map servers with the Web Map Service (WMS) protocol for requesting and receiving geographically referenced imagery.


Follow the links above to read more about core functional requirements of a BI and analytics tool.

Did we miss something? Drop us a line and we’ll see about getting it added.

Need help with your BI tool selection? Book a call with us and we’ll see if we can help. If we can point you in the right direction with a short phone call, great! If you’d like to hire us to do an evaluation and selection for you, contact us and we’ll make a selection together.

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